Designing an aged care facility to bring lasting change.

“Help someone, not for the reward, but for the sake of changing a life.” – Anonymous

While the exact origin of this aphorism is unknown, what is beyond doubt is its alignment to the goal of the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL): to make change that lasts for an Australia free of poverty.

BSL’s commitment to people experiencing disadvantage was the driving force behind the design and development of their new aged care residential facility.

With more than 1 in 10 people aged 65+ living below the poverty line*, we know a significant number of older people are among the most disadvantaged in Australia.

This concerning situation has become more pronounced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with those from this cohort living on the margins now at risk of deep disadvantage, and those already in this position now facing a life of exclusion.

The VIA team were humbled when the opportunity arose to work with BSL to design a facility to help elderly community members live a life with dignity.

Tim Nayton, Director of Aged Care & Business Architecture for BSL, lauded VIA’s delivery of their new BSL Aged Care Clifton Hill facility in the inner Melbourne suburbs. The facility caters for all  elderly people, with a special focus on catering to the needs of some of the most disadvantaged at a time when they need it the most.

My personal philosophy and commitment is to ensure our residential aged care genuinely supports people to live a life with dignity that they value, and to uncover what matters most for each unique life,” he said.“I believe, VIA successfully delivered a well-designed project for both our residents and staff”.

For us at VIA, knowing that our designers were able to contribute positively to BSL’s mission and to the lives of elderly disadvantaged people, brings us immense gratification.

We always design for the people. A building isn’t just about the form; it’s about how well it works for those that use it. Having compassion, consideration and understanding of others, translates to the way we genuinely design a building for our client. Not only do we seek to go above and beyond our client expectations, but we also relish in the idea of improving the lives of those who will ultimately utilise the building and space.

Having opened in March of this year, the BSL Aged Care Clifton Hill facility provides a stable and safe home to 114 residents. Each individual enjoys the privacy of their own room, an ensuite and windows to allow for natural light; some of which boast garden and city views.  A unique development featuring four-storeys, BSL Aged Care Clifton Hill was purposely designed to promote and enhance well-being, and connectivity between generations and the general public.

Our designers sought to create a sensory space that exudes contemporary style and harnesses a tranquil ambience whilst integrating communal areas including a gym, salon and physio.  And the design of the building means natural light has been amplified to enhance the mental health benefits that light can bring.

The design also incorporates a fully operational café which provides young adults experiencing significant barriers to employment the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience. In the café, they will learn the skillsets of a barista, and potentially use those new skills to pursue a career in hospitality.

The café was intentionally positioned across the road from the local primary school to attract the public, in particular parents and others doing the daily school drop off and pick up.

With further expansion and construction of the primary school next door, the landscaped areas have also been designed to allow a level of connectivity between the two sites to facilitate programmes that will enhance the lives of both the residents of BSL Aged Care Clifton Hill and the school children.

BSL is proud of the positive impact their BSL Aged Care Clifton Hill facility is already having on its residents and staff alike.

With a collaborative and pragmatic approach, coupled with the deliberate methodology to facilitate connectivity amongst the residents of BSL Aged Care Clifton Hill and the broader community, BSL’s focus on ensuring all elderly members of our community can live a life of dignity and inclusion, regardless of their background, has been a privilege to be able to bring to life through our design strategy.


* Below 50% median income (Davidson et al. 2018)